To contribute towards disaster management, advanced preparedness and contingency planning the United Nations Disaster Management Country Team (DMCT) decided to have a field mission to the town of Berd in the province of Tavush. The aim of the mission was also to visit the border-line communities jointly with national counterparts from the ministries of defence, emergency situations and territorial administration, representatives from the municipality of the town of Berd, Civil Society Institute and World Vision NGOs. At the same time the DMCT had a goal to raise community awareness within the frames of the campaign dedicated to the World Humanitarian Day (WHD) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both in the border villages and in the town of Berd.
Visit to the Border-line Communities / Schools (Moses, Nerkin Karmraghbyur, Aygepar)
The meetings with school principals, teachers, students as well as village mayors of Moses, Nerkin Karmiraghbyur and Aygepar villages was aimed to raising awareness. On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day and the ongoing “One Humanity” campaign, UNHCR explained to the children the importance of the work of humanitarian workers around the world telling also about the five principles of the Humanitarian Agenda. All of the students of the indicated villages were presented with UN souvenirs and gifts provided by UNDPI, UNICEF and World Vision. The mission participants thanked the principals and teachers for their valuable work of educating the new generations in the given tough conditions of the bordering communities.
In Aygepar village the mission participants themselves witnessed the immediate reaction of the shootings from the other side of the border: it was impossible to undertake the activities and ceremonies related to September 1st since it was not safe for children to remain at school. The children and teachers expressed their sincere gratitude for the attention with their frank and happy smiles.
Education outreach with high-school students on WHD and SDGs
In order to raise public awareness especially among the youth on World Humanitarian Agenda and “One Humanity” campaign UN Department of Public Information Yerevan Office organized an outreach event together with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the high-school named after Marusya Saghumyan. About 60 students of the 11th-12th grades actively participated in this education event during which they learned about the Humanitarian Day and the 5 principles of the Humanitarian Agenda. They also took part in the blitz contest “What is Humanity for You?” and with the decision of the jury selected from within the participants, four best students were announced who won OCHA gifts.
The continuation of the outreach was on the Sustainable Development Goals all of which are very appropriate to humanism and humanitarian mandate of the United Nations. After a brief introduction and screening of an animated film on SDGs by DPI the students were involved in an inter-active team work. Four groups prioritized the following goals as very relevant to their town: Goal 5 - Gender equality, Goal 6 - Clean water and sanitation, Goal 7 - Affordable and clean energy and Goal 16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions. After group work the students presented their ideas and solutions to the problems that existed in their community and which are very closely related to the mentioned goals. The very bright ideas and excellent presentation skills of the students were outstanding.
All the participants of the education outreach received small bags of UN promotional materials. UN DPI had prepared a set of publications and posters for the school. The school principal and several teachers were also present at the event. The principal thanked the UN for organizing this event on the 1st day of the academic year and voiced willingness to participate in the on-line events that DPI is organizing for youth. In return DPI invited the class to the UN Office for a visit and handed to the principal the “Friend of UN School” plaque.
Visiting Schools and Kindergarten in the town of Berd
Parallel to the meetings with school-children in border villages and education outreach in the high-school of Berd town UNHCR visited some 350 children in the secondary school #1 and the kindergarten of the town. September 1st marked the launch of the academic year in-line with the “One Humanity” campaign. On this occasion UNHCR organised a small awareness-raising dialogue with the teachers, the children and their parents combined with wishes for peace and solidarity, happy childhood with new friendships, a successful school year and community engagement. The overall excitement of the children grew when souvenir cookies symbolizing humanitarianism, goodwill and tranquillity were distributed to them.
As a continuation to the outreach the DPI team paid visits to the other secondary schools #1, #3 and #4 in the town of Berd to meet with the school principals and teaching staff providing them with UN Armenia publications, posters and promotional materials on World Humanitarian Day and UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Each school received also a small set of souvenirs (cups, pens, coasters, etc.) with UN logos and SDG icons. The school principals were asked to distribute among the students of the high grades leaflets with information on the “What is Humanity for You?” online contest dedicated to the World Humanitarian Day which was launched on Facebook on August 19th. The teachers promised to inform their school-children about the contest and how to become Friends of UN.
Workshop with the Heads of Border-line Communities
A workshop on advanced preparedness and contingency planning concluded the mission to the Tavush province and which was organized by the OCHA Regional Office for Caucasus, Central Asia and Ukraine (ROCCA), the Armenia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Civil Society Institute. The above-mentioned national counterparts and the village mayors of the border-line communities participated in the workshop which aimed to increase the effectiveness of the DMCT emergency preparedness and response activities through identifying local concerns, available response capacities, assistance needs and local level coordination mechanisms. Another issue was familiarization of the local authorities of the communities involved with the international humanitarian system and in-country humanitarian response mechanisms.
At the same time it was important to obtain information on the current situation and concerns of these border communities, local prevention and preparedness measures, existing response capacities including logistics and human resources, local government plans, assistance needs, local coordination mechanisms and availability of gender and age disaggregated data.
It was agreed that the village mayors, as well as state authority representatives will fill in the tables on these data which will be essential for DMCT in its contingency planning purposes. There will be a follow up DMCT meeting in the coming months to discuss the tangible outputs of the workshop and maintain relevant information sharing process.